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INTA 2018 live blog – the latest updates from Seattle

The Managing IP team was in Seattle, reporting the latest news and highlights from the INTA Annual Meeting

Welcome to Managing IP’s live blog from the INTA Annual Meeting, taking place at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. We will be bringing you updates throughout the day from May 20-23. You can also follow us on Twitter at @managingip and search #INTA2018 to see what attendees are saying.

All our coverage from INTA

Should cannabis brands get federal protection?

Tam’s unanswered questions of dilution and Section 7

How copyright can help trade mark owners in internet protection

Clarity needed for colour trade marks in Europe

The increasing challenge of combatting counterfeit sports products

The EU trade mark case law you need to know

Hope for 3D marks in Europe after Rubik’s Cube


Managing IP brings together Women in IP

Managing IP hosted its Women in IP Global Network networking event at the Pan Pacific Seattle on May 22. Thanks to everyone who came. It was great to see you all!

You can find out more information on the network here.

Women in IP Networking

Far from a Swift getaway

IP and Taylor Swift go way back. She is well known for her trade mark activities. But INTA attendees would have been less pleased with T-Swizzle if they were heading to or from a cocktail party near CenturyLink Field last night. The area was swarming with happy Swift fans after the concert around 11pm, which brought traffic to a standstill. The intrepid Managing IP team chose just the wrong moment to leave the CompuMark party – a ride that should have taken 15 minutes took an hour!


Highlights from Tuesday’s sessions

The “3D Marks After Rubik’s” session suggested that it wasn’t the end for shape marks in Europe. In 2016, the European Court of Justice annulled an EUIPO cancellation rejection for the Rubik’s Cube shape mark.

Rubiks-150Maximilian Kinkeldey, attorney at Grünecker, started the session by outlining the relevant regulations for 3D marks in Europe. Then inevitably there was talk of the Louboutin case at the CJEU – otherwise known as the red sole case. The Advocate General came to the conclusion that the red sole doesn’t just constitute a colour but is the shape of the product combined with colour, so the trade mark should fall. But Kinkeldey disagreed.

"Would anyone in this room have been concerned about anyone monopolising a red sole? Or would anyone see the red sole and say that’s a cool feature that needs to be kept free for others – I don’t think so,” said Kinkeldey.

"It is Louboutin which through clever marketing made the red sole a distinct mark. If that were a reason to exclude the mark from protection because suddenly the feature the mark owner himself made famous excludes the mark from registration, that would be unfair."

The “Annual Review of Leading Case Law in the European Union” session covered a wide range of cases. You can read our write-up here.  


Brilliant and bewildering booths

The second day of the INTA Annual Meeting is coming to a close and the conference is well underway. Thousands of people, thrilled by the trade mark insights they’ve gained in various talks, will likely be nattering in the Seattle bars tonight about what they learned over the past couple of days. But perhaps another thing they’ll be talking about, which is slightly less trade mark related and thus not the real reason they came, is the gimmicks, freebies and interactive attractions scattered around this year’s exhibition hall.

After all, everyone at INTA will have been accosted by the ‘scurvy dogs’ at the Marksmen booth at some point during the week. Those who took a picture with, and thus ‘captured’, the brand protection firm’s pirates and posted it on Twitter with #INTA2018 and #Marksmen20, stood to win a Caribbean cruise. As you can see from the picture, however, our very own Patrick Wingrove took his role as pirate apprehender a little too seriously!

But the pirates weren’t the only people with interesting attire. At the .Sucks booth, a domain name registrar, attendees could get their hands on t-shirts to help tell the world what they thought sucked. Gun violence, sexism and Trump all featured – though perhaps the most popular t-shirt slogan, given the audience, was

Attendees also had the chance to test out their gaming skills at the PageVault booth. The web capture business had set up an old-school games console – complete with 1980s-looking joystick – and recorded the high scores. Games people could play included Missile Commander, Centipede and all-time classic Space Invaders.

A less ‘high-tech’ game INTA attendees could play was the mini wheel of fortune at the 101 Domain stand. Players could win a t-shirt, drawing, notebook or, perhaps most appealing of all to conference goers, a flask. Indonesian IP firm Pacific Patent won this blogger’s prize for best cultural stand – which held several products one might find on a typical Indonesian street stall that the firm helped protect.

INTA 2918 booths

Monday’s morning sessions in tweets

THE REDSKINS and THE SLANTS: A Review of the Causes, the Cases, and How the First Amendment Is Likely to Impact Trademark Registrations Going Forward

The Fate of Color Per Se Marks in Europe<


Industry Breakout: Legal-Up! Implications of Video Games in the 21st Century

Getting into the weeds

Cannabis 168The issue of whether cannabis brands should get federal protection was hammered out in the lively INTA Professor v Practitioner debate yesterday.

On one side of the ring, Brand & Branch partner Shabnam Malek argued that the USPTO could and should offer cannabis brands protection. On the other, Vanderbilt University professor Robert Mikos contended that federal cannabis marks were unnecessary, unwise and ultimately unauthorised.

When the audience was asked to raise hands as to who they agreed with, Shabnam was the clear winner. You can read our write-up of the debate here


INTA’s 2020 Singapore vision

Here is confirmation from INTA of the details for 2020’s Annual Meeting in Singapore.

The meeting will take place from April 25 to 29 2020 at the Marina Bay Sands, earlier in the year than usual. This marks the second time INTA is bringing its annual meeting to Asia, and the first time that the organisation will host the event in Southeast Asia.

In a release, INTA said a confluence of factors contributed to the selection of Singapore for the 2020 gathering, including its vibrant environment, cultural diversity, ease of accessibility, and achievements in the field of IP. INTA opened an Asia-Pacific Representative Office in Singapore in March 2016. Etienne INTA 2018

10,910 and counting!

INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo revealed at the opening ceremony that 10,910 people are registered for this year’s meeting. “Hopefully by the end of the meeting, we’ll reach 11,000”, he said, noting it is a record. “It shows our industry is in great shape and we are in great shape.”

These numbers include 2,674 new attendees.

He also confirmed that the 2020 annual meeting will return to Asia, taking place in Singapore. Next year's meeting is in Boston. 

The opening ceremony also include fishmongers from the Pike Place Market bringing some local flavour by throwing a fish around. 

Disparaging and scandalous trade marks post-Tam

The Slants 2018At the INTA Annual Meeting on Monday at 10.15am, a panel will assess how the First Amendment is likely to impact trademark registration going forward. This will include some first-hand experience: Simon Tam of The Slants will be speaking as well as Amanda Blackhorse, the social worker and activist involved in the dispute over the "Redskins" mark.

The biggest trademark decision of the past year was Matal v Tam, in which the Supreme Court in June 2017 found that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act’s prohibition on the registration of disparaging marks violated the First Amendment. The court declared: "Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend."

While the Supreme Court settled the issue of disparaging marks, Section 2(a)’s prohibition against immoral or scandalous marks is still being contested. The Federal Circuit in December 2017 found Erik Brunetti’s mark "FUCT" undoubtedly scandalous, but following Matal v Tam, ruled the mark registrable on First Amendment grounds.

The Federal Circuit in April declined to take the case up en banc.

You can read our preview here

Mexico publishes IP law amendments

Trademark practitioners travelling to Seattle for INTA may have missed the news on Friday that amendments to Mexico’s industrial property law were published on Friday.

The amendments are expected to come into force by August 10, and give protection to new trade mark types, including sense marks. The amendments will give protection to new mark types, including sense marks, such as sound and smell, colour combinations, holographic signs, and operative and image element configurations - also known as trade dress.

It will become possible to obtain descriptive or generic marks with respect to goods or services, so long as they have acquired distinctiveness or secondary meaning derived from their use in commerce.

More details on our site here.

Come and meet us!

Women in IP Global Network event

Managing IP will be hosting a free drinks and networking event at the Pan Pacific Seattle on May 22, from 2pm-4.30pm. This event is open to all! Click here to register. The invitation card is here. If you have any questions please email

INTA returns to Seattle

INTA’s Annual Meeting is being held in Seattle for the second time in nine years this year. It has brought together more than 10,500 trademark practitioners and other IP professionals from more than 150 countries for its 140th Annual Meeting.

Seattle CenterSince INTA’s last annual meeting in Seattle in 2009, attendance has increased by more than 3,000 professionals.

The meeting features numerous highlights. On May 20, Neil Lindsay, vice-president of global marketing, prime and engagement at, will give the keynote address at the opening ceremonies. Session topics include strategies for battling counterfeit goods, artificial intelligence, Brexit, and compliance in light of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which takes effect this month. The grand finale is a block party at the Seattle Center.

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